Jul 22, 2013

Proposed law would enable veterans to leave funds to disabled child in special needs trust

Shouldn't military veterans have the same estate planning options as their civilian counterparts? Unfortunately, as I posted here last year, in one important area they do not. 

Under current law, a military retiree can put aside up to 55% of his monthly pension to be distributed in the form of a stipend to his/her survivors when he passes away. A veteran may leave the benefits to his/her disabled child, but must leave it directly to the child. The funds may not be left in trust for the child. The effective result: The child will likely lose essential government benefits that are means-tested, such as Social  Security disability and Medicaid. In most cases, those benefits are what will keep a disabled child from falling into poverty. 

On the other hand, non-military personnel enjoy the right to leave their benefits in a special needs trust for the benefit of their disabled child. The funds in the special needs trust may be used to provide supplemental services to the child such as transportation, equipment, special therapies, etc. Since the funds are in a special needs trust and not directly accessed by the beneficiary, the child does not lose his/her eligibility for government benefits. Read more about Special Needs Trusts.

The Disabled Military Child Protection Act has been introduced in Congress to right this wrong and enable a veteran to put the funds in a special needs trust to benefit a disabled child. The House version is H.R.2249; the Senate version is  S.1076. The legislation has widespread support from many organizations, and you can add your support by contacting your representatives in Congress: 

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